1. Send an Email
This letter is to express my deep concern for the situation that has developed in the Municipality of Barllias, Huehuetenango in Guatemala regarding Hidralia Energia’s Cambalam project.
Hidralia Energia and the state of Guatemala have moved forward with this project despite clear indications of opposition from the local Indigenous Q’anjob’al Mayan community. The community has demonstrated their opposition to foreign development projects on their sacred, ancestral land on multiple occasions, most notably on July 23rd, 2007 and specifically in opposition to the Cambalam project on July 4th, 2011.
According to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization, which were ratified in Guatemala, it is the responsibility of the state of Guatemala to provide effective mechanisms to consult with the Indigenous Peoples before approving a license for any project that may affect their ancestral lands, and cultural or spiritual property.
The state of Guatemala has failed to consult with the Q’anjob’al people of Barillas. Therefore, the issuing licenses for projects that affect Indigenous People while no consultation has taken place is a violation of their rights. The State should revoke the license for operation until a process of free, prior, and informed consent has taken place.
Hidralia Energia claims that the project will have zero environmental impact. Yet no impact studies have been made public to back up this claim. It is unrealistic to say that any dam project, no matter how small, will have zero environmental impact. Aside from the environmental concerns, the company has failed to acknowledge that the Q’am B’alam river is a sacred site for the local Mayan community, and that no project, regardless of the size, is appropriate when it involves the desecration of sacred ancestral sites without the consent of stakeholders. In fact, the proposed Cambalam I dam would greatly affect the Q’anjob’al Mayan people’s traditional and ceremonial uses of the Q’am B’alam river and its three waterfalls, and could put endemic amphibian species at risk. In light of these issues, we request that the company conduct a thorough, independent Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and make the results public.
Hidralia Energia’s attempts at bribery, intimidation, and violence against the Q’anjob’al people have been documented with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala. Yet, on May 1st, the State of Guatemala responded to the death of a local leader Andres Fransisco Miguel by declaring an Estado de Sitio in the municipality, pursuing and arresting community leaders who remain incarcerated. We Demand the release of nine community leaders that were detained illegally and continue to be held incarcerated, and an end to the continued persecution of community leaders peacefully organizing to protect their land.
These factors show that Hidralia Energia in partnership with the State of Guatemala have violated many aspects of the Q’anjob’al people’s human rights as well as their rights as original peoples of Mesoamerica.
We urge you to take steps to redress these concerns as soon as possible.
2. Write a letter
Personal communication has the most impact. Please write your own letter and send it by email, fax, or mail. Or, download a copy of the above text, here.
Avenida del Ejercito n.10
15006 A Coruña, Spain
Phone: (Guatemala) + 502 23 78 13 28
(Spain) +34 981 17 40 17
Mr. Raúl Castañeda Illescas
Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
20 calle 28-58 zona 10, Edificio MARN
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Phone: (Guatemala (502) 24 23 0500
(502) 24 23 0436 Ext.2311
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com,
D. Manuel Maria Lejarreta Lobo
Spanish Ambassador to Guatemala
US Assistant Secretary of State of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Guatemala Desk Officer at US State Department
Send Email Now!
2. Spread the Word
Copy and paste these messages to share through through social media:
Please take a minute to stand up against human rights violations against the Q'anjob'al Mayan people of Guatemala-
Check out this campaign: www.cs.org/take-action/barillas
Help the Q'anjob'al Mayan people of Guatemala defend their #humanrights! Take action here: http://bit.ly/PBLGVW
Spanish company Hidralia Energia violates #humanrights to proceed with dam construction. Tell them you don't approve: http://bit.ly/PBLGVW
The Q’anjob’al people of Barillas say Yuj wal dios (“Thank you”)!
"May everyone move forward, and no one remain behind. Brothers and sisters of Barillas, together we will achieve peace and the real development of our community."